By KBB.com Editors
Fresh from a major makeover last year, the Malibu sedan and Malibu Maxx wagon continue to offer consumers a strong incentive to move away from the leading imports and come home to Chevrolet. Loaded with unique features and based on a proven European platform, known in General Motors as the Epsilon, the Malibu and Malibu Maxx have strong appeal to consumers looking to get out of their gas-thirsty SUVs and into something fuel efficient, roomy and fun to drive. Although their engines and transmissions are not yet up to the standards set by Toyota and Honda, the Malibu and Malibu Maxx are far from outdated. Unfortunately, the pair still has some catching up to do in the area of residual and long-term resale values.
If you're looking for a mid-size sedan or hatchback with generous rear seat leg- and headroom plus an ample cargo hold, the Malibu and Malibu Maxx should be on your list. Those who spend hours in their cars will appreciate the excellent front seats.
If you're partial to Japanese-quality interiors, the Malibu probably won't cut it. Though clean, the overall interior is not up to the standard set by Mazda, Toyota and Hyundai. There is no manual transmission option, either.
The 3.5-liter V6 is fitted with variable valve timing (VVT) and front and rear head-curtain airbags are now standard on LS and LT trims.
Driving Impressions The Epsilon platform on which the Malibu rides shows itself once you start tossing the sedan into turns. The stiff body and firm suspension give up very little in the...way of body lean, squat or dive. The Malibu easily pushes through tight turns, hindered only by its touring tires that squeal once they near their limits. At a standstill, the power steering is so light you can turn the wheel with one finger. Once in motion, however, the steering quickly firms up to return accurate and linear road feel. The four-speed automatic performs admirably, with a convenient up/down shift button that lets you toggle through gears one through threea useful device when driving in snow.
Up/Down Shift Button
The up/down shift button on the automatic transmission lever lets you toggle between gears one through three.
Fold-Flat Passenger Seat
The Malibu's fold-flat front passenger seat increases cargo-hauling capability.
The Malibu's interior features large, legible gauges, a modern and clean center cluster and some of the best seats we've experienced in a Chevrolet. New colors and seat patterns definitely brighten the formerly monotone interior, but the plastic on the dash and door panels still needs some work. As for dimensions, the Malibu offers plenty of leg-, hip- and headroom both front and rear. The sedan's huge trunk also expands easily via the folding rear seat, while the Malibu Maxx wagon offers a sliding fore-and-aft split rear seat.Exterior
Though handsome, the Malibu's exterior sheetmetal holds nothing earthshaking. Standout features include large jewel-like headlamps, styling lines that curve over the front and rear wheel arches and a bright chrome bar splitting the grille. While the sedan and wagon are virtually identical from the B-pillar forward, the Malibu Maxx distinguishes itself via a large flip-up hatchback and an additional six inches between the front and rear wheels.
The Malibu LS includes, as standard equipment, a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine, air conditioning, power door locks, four cup holders, dual power mirrors, power driver's seat height adjustment, two 12-volt outlets, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, tachometer, cruise control, power windows, AM/FM stereo with CD, front and rear head-curtain airbags and full wheel covers. The LT trim adds the 3.5-liter V6 (Maxx only), 16-inch alloy wheels, premium cloth seats, body-colored mirrors, door handles and rocker panels and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls. The LTZ adds automatic air conditioning, heated mirrors, side-impact airbags, heated leather seats, six-way power driver's seat, 17-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels and power adjustable pedals.
Popular options include a power sunroof, OnStar, front seat side-impact airbags, six-way power driver's seat, auto-dimming interior mirror, XM Satellite Radio, remote control starter, rear-seat DVD entertainment system (Maxx only) and a six-disc in-dash CD changer.
The standard 2.2-liter engine is an underwhelming performer, but returns outstanding fuel economy considering the Malibu's size. The V6 models offer better power, with city/highway fuel economy almost equal to the four-cylinder. The new 200-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing accelerates briskly, with very little growl even under full throttle. Passing power is also excellent and, once up to speed, the engine is barely audible inside the passenger compartment.
2.2-liter in-line 4
144 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
155 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34
217 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
217 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 (sedan), 20/29 (Maxx)
By Driver312 on Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 206,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas mileage, great performance, drives well."
Cons: "Road noise, slick road performance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This has been a fantastic car for us- 206K miles (and still going!!). We've had no major issues with the car. Gas mileage is great, drives like a dream. The only downsides are a LOT of road noise, not entirely comfortable for taller-than-average people, and I give it an "average" rating in snow/ice."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Malibu Maxx on Sunday, November 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "It's the MAXX, love it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have been thinking of a newer model since I do a lot of driving but I can't find another car with all the features of this model, the Malibu MaXX. It looks great, drives fantastic, has special features and is very roomy. Gas mileage is beyond its years. I once drove my brother's 1965 Ford Mustang which was so much fun. A few years after he returned from Viet Nam, he sold it. I wish I had bought and kept it. It was so fun to drive and that is how I feel about the Malibu Maxx. It is a classic already in my opinion."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Wadie on Monday, November 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Car drives like sports car and has plenty of power. Plenty of room inside. Biggest complaint is suspension system."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Donnie on Monday, November 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 133,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, comfortable."
Cons: "Had to replace remote entry 4 times."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Brought the car new and have been very satisfied with it. Very minor problems and have not had to spend much money on repairs. Very comfortable ride. First car I ever owned that I have been able to keep for this long. Would recommend it highly and consider buying another one (sorry they no longer make the MAXX)Great to carry things because of the way the seats fold down."
By Jonsey on Thursday, September 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 134,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I have driven this car almost every day since buying it as a used car with 32,000 mi. on it. It needs shocks and some brake work; it has kid-proof locks and excellent security locks. I have taken reasonably good care of it but not garage kept. It has great "pick-up" and handles easily!!"
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Wolf Doitsu on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 107,777overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, great mpg"
Cons: "no space for upgrades in the engine compartment"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I got this car for my 16th birthday and have had it for about a year now. I love the gas mileage on it 21mpg city/30mpg highway with a 17 gallon tank. I love the style of the care. Even with the few recall notices we've gotten on it (ex. ABS, Cruise Control, & Transmission recall), it has been an amazing car to drive. Great turn radius for me, as it is hard getting out of my high school parking lot, I crank my steering wheel all the way around and easily move towards the exit of the lot."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful